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Yahoo goes for 'solid and safe' choice for new chief executi

Yahoo is likely to retain its independence under Carol Bartz, if her experience as chief executive of software maker Autodesk is any guide.

Ms Bartz, who is to succeed Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, liked to describe her Bay Area company as the second-oldest PC software company after Microsoft.

She became chief executive of the San Rafael-based computer-aided design (CAD) company in 1992, and while it thrived under her 14-year leadership, many other PC software companies from the pre-internet era went into decline or were taken over, such as Lotus by IBM and WordPerfect by Corel.

Yahoo employees may, therefore, be comforted by the fact that Ms Bartz has managed to keep Microsoft at arm's length during her career and was able to make Autodesk adapt to changing circumstances.

Equally, they may be alarmed at her lack of -internet experience or knowledge of the advertising business, the key focuses of the internet company.

She is more skilled in - software installed on client PCs than web services and in talking to "channel partners" - the resellers of -software - than to media companies.

In that respect, Ms Bartz is the opposite to the last outsider appointed by Yahoo's board - the media mogul Terry Semel.

There will be immediate speculation about the future of Yahoo's president Sue Decker, who was the top candidate from within the company but appears to have been passed over due to her association with a troubled period for the company.

When Ms Bartz took over at Autodesk, she fired senior executives and brought in a new management team.

She even fired and then rehired Carl Bass, the man who subsequently succeeded her as chief executive when she moved to become -executive chairman of the board.

Those who know her say she brought a new professionalism and ability to execute to Autodesk, something Yahoo, known for long product evolutions, has sorely lacked. "Carol is a very solid and very safe choice for Yahoo," said Allen Weiner, analyst at the Gartner research firm. "She rode Autodesk through some very tough times."

He said the appointment would go down well on Wall Street, due to Ms Bartz's solid execution in difficult times: with advertisers, from her time in sales and marketing at Sun Microsystems; and with Yahoo staff, because she was a motivational leader.

Ms Bartz already has a professional relationship with Mr Yang and Sue Decker, the outgoing -president, through their serving on the boards of Intel and Cisco Systems.

She is also a member of the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a body which was set up by George W. Bush, the outgoing US president.

Ms Bartz was born in 1948 in the small Minnesota town of Winona. Her mother died when she was eight and she was raised by her grandmother.

She went on to study -computer science at the -University of Wisconsin at Madison.

After university, Ms Bartz worked for 3M for four years, but left when she was refused a transfer to head office. "Women don't do these jobs," she says she was told. She went on to work for Digital Equipment Corp and Sun Microsystems, where she rose to become vice president of worldwide field operations and an executive officer.

Ms Bartz is twice married with a grown-up daughter and is a keen gardener and golfer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer as she was joining Autodesk as chief executive, but took only four weeks off to undergo a mastectomy.

Her tough reputation and a work ethic that can run to 18-hour days should stand her in good stead for the task at Yahoo - turning round a company that has lost market share to Google and faces a predator in Microsoft represents more than a full-time job.

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